Alright, I’m on vacation now. Now is a good time than ever to catch up.
Considering Yuki and Kyo had just made the big decision to spend New Year’s with Tohru, you’d be a little surprised or baffled to see there’s not much of a follow up in the next episode. Not even Kagura beelining back to Shigure’s house to make up for “lost time” though maybe I should be glad Natsuki Takaya didn’t have that in mind when she originally wrote the story. More importantly, you have to wonder how Akito did react to the news. You’re just left to assume Shigure managed to appeal to his good side like he said he would. Still, there is a little suspense in not showing Akito’s reaction. If he’s not acting up now, when will he?
Actually, there is sort of a follow-up in that the Ox zodiac, Hatsuharu “Haru” Soma (Makoto Furukawa/Justin Cook) decides to pay Yuki and Kyo a visit. The guy actually showed up at the end of last episode, disappointed that he won’t get to spar with Kyo during the celebration (the two of them are fellow martial arts students). Naturally, he’s in this episode in the hopes of getting that desired fight (and yes, this is as silly as it sounds). Why didn’t I mention Haru last review? Well, apart from me just being tired at the time, the most I could say was Haru showed up. It made more sense to save the comments for later.
I don’t remember if Haru was one of my top favorite Somas (someone close to him is though) but I do like the guy. The whole “Light” and “Dark” personality routine is admittedly a bit redundant considering that we have Kagura in the cast. And let’s not kid ourselves, it’s pretty much the same gimmick. Still, I’d argue that I prefer Haru’s variation. Light Haru is laid back and dense. Dark Haru craves for a fight and the worst he gets is usually throwing vague, meaningless taunts and insults. It’s far less problematic than Kagura going from “Love me” to “Love me damn it or die” and vice versa. The funny thing is that Yuki thinks Haru’s mood swing is worse but then again, he and a lot of other people seem to look past the beatings Kyo takes from Kagura so I don’t know if that’s an entirely sound assessment.
Oddly enough, Haru also has his own share of unrequited love as he apparently considers Yuki his first crush. While usually played for a laugh, the affinity is genuine. You see Haru pause his fight with Kyo once Yuki collapses from a fever (always the deadliest disease in anime) and even transforms into his Ox form to carry him back. That Haru understands Yuki’s preference to rest at Shigure’s house suggests that he’s privy to his relative’s desire to branch away from the Soma family.
There is also a surprisingly dramatic origin behind Haru’s relationship with Yuki. Growing up, Haru dealt with a preconception that he’s idiotic. Said preconception is based around how the Ox got tricked into letting the Rat ride on its back. This caused him to resent Yuki but when the two finally meet in person, Haru recognize his self-worth and realize that he’d really be an idiot if he kept blaming things on Yuki. To me, this whole backstory comes across as a slight antithesis to Kyo’s. One member of the Soma family is unfairly treated due to a legend they’re associated with. The difference is the development with Kyo and Yuki stuck in an aggressive stalemate while Haru’s grievance is almost non-existent now. It kind of proves Tohru’s point that if Yuki and Kyo could just see eye to eye with one another, they could get along with each other.
Something I couldn’t help but notice was how chilled Haru is around Tohru. Considering how things initially started off with Kagura and Hatori, it’s kind of refreshing to have an auxiliary Soma just hit it off. Sure, the same could be said about Momiji but I think even he had a small shred of doubt over whether or not being friends with Tohru was something that would last. And despite just meeting her, Hatori has a pretty good read on Tohru too. While Tohru doesn’t recognize this (let alone acknowledge it if she did), she clearly has a positive effect on Yuki and Kyo. The fact that they’re still living together says something. And sure, they still bicker but as Haru and Tohru point out, that’s better than getting into fistfights every day.
As a sort of test to prove his observation, Haru tasks Tohru to call Yuki by his first name. That’s something that always stood out to me as odd. Months have passed by and Tohru still calls Yuki “Soma-kun”? Meanwhile, she’s been calling Kyo by his first name since Episode 2! I get why the formalities has perpetuated for so long. It all goes back to Yuki’s struggle in opening himself up to others and having walls placed between him and them. Still, it was about time to see the formalities dropped, even if just for a moment. Having already been weakened by his fever, Yuki transforms in response to Tohru using his given name. Tohru seems convinced she just made a fool of herself but Yuki’s flustered state is likely what Haru expected to see. If this makes Yuki’s heart skip a beat, then clearly Tohru means something to him.
English Dub Comments
While not reprising his script and ADR duties, Justin Cook has been brought back to voice Hatsuharu for Fruits Basket‘s English dub. I think Cook did a pretty job acting as Haru’s two different personalities so it’s really nice to see him in the role again. He does sound a little older and gruffer this time around (it has been about 17 years after all) but I oddly find that suits Haru better considering that the character is meant to sound older than he actually is.
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